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Nikolai Tsiskaridze (Dancer)

Nikolay Tsiskaridze is a Russian ballet dancer, who was a member of the Bolshoi Ballet for 21 years (1992-2013). Born in Georgia in 1973 Tsiskaridze began his dance studies at the Tbilisi Ballet School in 1984 and joined the Moscow Ballet School in 1987, where he studied under the guidance of Pyotr Pestov. After graduating in 1992, Tsiskaridze directly joined the ballet company of the Bolshoi Theatre, then under the direction of Yury Grigorovich, and was promoted to the position of principal in 1995. Since then, Tsiskaridze has performed internationally with a number of ballet companies across the world, including the Mariinsky Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet. He also participated in most of the foreign tours of the Bolshoi Ballet, “Kings of the Dance” international project, Les Saisons Russes du XXI Siecle.

Over the course of his dance career he performed over seventy roles in major classical works as well as ballets by renowned modern choreographers. While dancing, Tsiskaridze completing his studies at the Pedagogical faculty of the Institute of Choreography in 1996. Since 2003 he was teaching a daily ballet class at the Bolshoi Theatre. Besides, since 2004 he was also teaching at the Moscow Ballet Academy.

In October 2003 Tsiskaridze had to face his first major injury which threatened to end his career - the devastating knee injury sustained during his rehearsal at Opera de Paris. After the very first operation when doctors changed the ligament in his knee he got staphylococci infection into his body and for some period he was in a critical state. With further 9 operations doctors succeeded to save not only his life, but his leg as well. Finally, he started learning to walk. He entered the stage after 9-month intermission.

Tsiskarizde has received many honours: he became the youngest person to be named a People's Artist of Russia (2001). He received the State Prize of the Russian Federation (2001, 2003), the Prix Benois de la Danse (1999), Silver medal at the Osaka Ballet Competition (1995), Golden medal at the Moscow Ballet Competition (1997), Honoured Artist of Russia (1997), Russian Golden Mask theatrical prize (1998, 2000, 2003), Order of Honour of the Republic of Georgia (2003), Danza&Danza award as best dancer of the year 2003, Triumph prize (2004), Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française (2006), People's Artist of North Osetia — Alania Republic (2013) etc.

As a dancer, Tsiskaridze possessed the purity of Russian dance training and the regality and mystery of royalty. His extremely long legs moved with masculine power, yet also with feminine grace. His arms could at one moment be strong and forceful, and at the next soft and elegant. His feet were well arched for a man and his beats were pristine. As a product of the Russian ballet school, which emphasizes dramatic expression hand in hand with technique from a very early stage in training, Tsiskaridze was an effortless actor with the ability to mesmerize the audience. There were no small parts for Tsiskaridze where his profession was concerned. Preparation for any role was very important for him. The dancer says, “It is desirable to know everything about the ballet, about the character, the composer, the choreographer – everything.” There is a huge collection of videos and books about ballet in his house and some ballet critics envy his knowledge of this art. He doesn't get tired of studying and researching something new in the subjects that have already been well explored by him.

As Tsiskaridze says: “I believe that the fate of a person depends on his or her temper. If I had been more mild and base person, I would have become a worshipped hero! I was to have been on the cushion long ago! But disliking stupidity and imbecility, I don’t manage to keep my mouth shut. Moreover, I don’t care for it and feel good. All that I achieved in my life was achieved by my talent and industry. Ballet is a rough labor, all are working hard, but results differ. I had more luck because of my parents`genes.”

Being a ballet dancer, Tsiskaridze has become a real superstar in Russia, having appeared in many reality shows and being a judge on Russia's version of Dancing with the Stars for several years.

Since July 2011, Tsiskaridze is a member of the President´s Council for Culture and Arts.

Following months of legal disputes and scandals, Tsiskaridze left the Bolshoi when his contracts (as a premier dancer and as a ballet teacher) expired on 30 June 2013 and the theater´s management decided not to prolong any of them. His relationship with the directors of the theater was rocky long time ago - he openly criticized the theater’s management for soiling the Bolshoi’s repertoire of classics with contemporary works from abroad, for shoddy work during a recent renovation, for favoritism and bad taste. As a result of his endless criticism, Tsiskaridze claimed he and his students were denied roles, docked pay and prevented from advancing their careers.

In October 2013, Tsiskaridze was appointed as an acting Rector of the prestigious Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Saint Petersburg (est. in 1738), on the order of the Culture Minister. He stopped being "acting" and started to work hard as the full Rector of the institution.

In 2014, Tsiskaridze graduated as a Master of Law at Kutafin Moscow State Law University.

On 29 Nov, 2014 Tsiskaridze was formally confirmed as a Rector of the Vaganova Academy in unopposed election, winning 227 of the 244 possible votes which include professors, students and even school canteen workers. Even though his appointment a year ago caused a scandal, Tsiskaridze won the support of the staff with his hard work and significant results - improving the quality of education at the Academy, raising the funds for the school equipment and furnishing, negotiating various collaborations with other well-known schools and theatres, bringing the new repertoire broadening the range of opportunities for graduates etc.

The Trustees of Tokyo Ballet Academy have granted to Nikolay Tsiskaridze the Status of Professor Emeritus. The Artistic Director of Tokyo Ballet Academy Dr. Etsuro Satomi signed the letter about it in February 11, 2015.

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